Wow, I made it happen. I competed in the World Firefighter Games in Lisbon 2022.
We drove up to Lisbon and then on up to Torres Vedras. That was bonkers. We had rubbish take away breakfast from the hotel as they don't serve breakfast before 7 am, not amused! And we had to be on the road. In fact, we didn't eat hardly any of it and getting released from the car park that cost 19 euros was stressful enough. Scan ticket, pay, open, simples! Not today of all days.
Technology at its finest....not!
Eventually, we got let out. 15 minutes wasted.
The drive out of Lisbon, well the 'stat nav' froze lol and then further north we hit thick dense cold fog! We arrived in Torres Vedras with 30 minutes to register and race. I whizzed up to the start line on my bike for a warm-up, not dressed properly yet, but I needed to register and then back to find loos, luckily at the Bombeiros Fire Station, then went back up to start. My wife wandered up the steep climb to the start line, wrapped up as it was cold. She must really love me x, bless her x.
I look back now and laugh, but at the time it certainly isn't conducive to being in the right frame of mind and prepared!
But all that aside I really don't think it would have made much difference to my results.
The main thing for me is, that I said I would do it and I did. Raising awareness and funds for the Bombeiros and The Firefighters Charity, thank you for the kind donations, bless you.
With the physical support from my good lady wife, who cheered everyone on because she is like that, and especially those that were struggling as they cycled past on the circuit, joined by a new friend she made of another wife of a competitor from Sweden and the emotional support of so many back in Blighty and across the globe I was being motivated along. But making it to the start line and competing was the aim. And to raise awareness of PTSD and Mental Health issues.
I completed 9 laps out of 11, as the race stopped on the lap you were on when the 1st rider completed the 62km. They were very quick compared to me.
After flying off trying to keep up with the peloton I completed lap 1 in 9min and 59secs. I looked down to see I was travelling at around 45-50kmph!! And on the flat!! I have been doing this downhill, but I have been training at around 30-37kmph on the flat. There was no way I would be able to keep this speed up for this distance. Then the cold fog made me cough so I dropped back to my race, my pace. Exertion and the cold air weren't helpful. Luckily all are gone now.
My splits were:
Lap 1- 9.59, lap2- 11.02, lap3- 12.02, lap4- 12.29, lap5- 12.37, lap6- 12.33, lap7- 12.03, lap8- 12.06, lap9- 11.54.
I completed 50km in 1hr46min44sec. I came in 25th out of 34.
On average I had recovered and was increasing my speeds again as the race progressed. So adding roughly another 24 minutes for the extra 2 laps I would have beaten my training times up to Monchique mountain and climbed a lot higher. So all in all, I can be happy that I would have beaten my normal times. I have certainly improved.
I was a little down on myself and I've always been self-critical, but always in a positive way, as I look for improvements. I have always pushed myself, but I have to admit that my mindset changed as soon as I realised I wasn't in this race with these incredible athletes, realising early, that I went back to 'my race, my pace.' This was now about not letting the hills get to me and finishing. Short and steep enough!
The moral of this blog is not to be too hard on yourself. Yes analyse by all means and look to improve but in a healthy mindset way.
I made some great news friends from Portugal and Sweden and England that were competing.
This is exactly why I began this race. We encourage and support each other.
1 senhor, a Portuguese bombeiros, would cheer as we passed each other on opposite sides of the dual carriageway. We are now looking to meet again in another competition. Who knows? You have to make it happen right?
Muito respecto as he, along with several others, competed in the MTB race the day before and the Stair challenges, plus Judo. They came and took part in many events.
There truly are some incredible people in this world, as many of you are too.
We all contribute in various ways in helping others.
We all face challenges, and every one of us will deal with them differently each day, depending on our coping capacity and stress levels.
My point here is, don't let them build up, deal with them and talk about them and importantly, recognise when to ease off and protect yourself. In a fire situation, you don't just keep pushing on without water protection and cooling it down as you go, or continue driving fast in thick fog.
You rationalise and assess as you progress.
Identifying my physical health limits was key to Saturday's race.
Pushing myself to breaking point would not have been healthy.
Why should Mental Health be any different?
So as not to be disappointed or demotivated, I have accepted a new challenge already, racing in Almodovar this Sunday. I'm sticking to the mini fundo as it's only 55km, the next is medio fundo at 105km and then grande fundo at 155km. It will be hills and very hot.
So I am already being sensible.
There's a first lol
Heat at 9h is 20 plus degrees and rising.
You don't have to compare or try to do something massive, just keep showing up regularly, doing your thing that makes you happy and healthier, mentally and physically. Your race and your pace remember.
Be inspired by many and inspired by you.
Look back at how far you have come and gotten through, you are amazing.
And remember to smile, it really does confuse the mind and body that it doesn't hurt.
As long as it's a healthy hurt!
Sending positivity and good energy to all.